An internal audit of the grounded Boeing 737 Max has uncovered additional problems, the company confirmed Monday. File photo by Justin Lane/EPA-EFE
Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Previously undiscovered safety issues with the grounded Boeing 737 Max aircraft have been uncovered during a review process, company officials have confirmed.
The 737 Max was grounded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in March after two crashes killed a total of 346 people. Investigations of the crashes led to the discovery of flaws in its automated flight software, which the company has ordered been to fix.
But the New York Times reported Sunday an internal audit demanded by the FAA and carried out in December has revealed previously unreported concerns with the wiring that helps control the aircraft's tail.
Citing an unnamed Boeing engineer and three people "familiar with the matter," the Times said Boeing is looking at whether two bundles of critical wiring are too close together and prone to short-circuiting, which could lead to a crash if pilots do not respond correctly.
The newspaper said Boeing is still trying to determine whether that scenario could actually occur on a flight and, if so, whether it would need to separate the wire bundles in the existing Max fleet.
A company spokesman Monday confirmed the report to CNN, telling the broadcaster, "Our highest priority is ensuring the 737 Max meets all safety and regulatory requirements before it returns to service. We are working closely with the FAA and other regulators on a robust and thorough certification process to ensure a safe and compliant design."
The spokesperson wouldn't speculate on how the new issue might affect the timeline for the Max's oft-delayed recertification by the FAA. Boeing announced Dec. 16 it would suspend production of the model beginning in January.
Ongoing troubles with Max have resulted in a leadership shakeup at Boeing. CEO Dennis Muilenburg was fired before Christmas and succeeded by Chairman David Calhoun. Board member Lawrence Kellner replace Calhoun as chairman.